Newham finish ahead of Aussies and Germans in track and field medal table
PUBLISHED: 09:15 17 August 2012
If Newham & Essex Beagles claimed independence they would have finished seventh in the athletics medal table at the Olympic Games!
That is a pleasing stat for the Beagles team manager Bob Smith, but that aside, he feels the performance of the club’s athletes on the whole was one to be proud of.
“That is the stand out stat from the Games for me,” said Smith, who also works as the London Development Manager for England Athletics.
“If we declared ourselves as independent, the club would have been seventh in the table and that is a great achievement.
“But you also have to look at some of the performances from some of our other athletes and although they didn’t medal they had good Olympics on the whole.
“The disappointments were James Ellington in the 200m not making it through the heats and Abdul Buhari, who did OK.”
The achievement of Christine Ohuruogu in the Games is another satisfying moment for Smith, who had seen her compete in her first- ever race some 12 years ago.
“You could see she had the potential from the off,” said Smith.
“She was a fine netball player but when she started athletics at the age of 17 you could see something special.
“It was in her first race at Kingston, it wasn’t exactly quick but at the 300m mark she looked across and saw herself in second place.
“She wasn’t having any of that and she overtook the club runner to win the race. She has become famous for that final sprint now. She comes so late in the race.
“But over the years she has become a runner who can handle the heats well and produce a fast time in the finals.”
But one of Smith’s most pleasing performances from a Beagle came in the shape of Moumin Gala, representing Djibouti.
The 25-year-old arrived in the country in 2003 as an asylum seeker with older brother Abdi.
And despite his deprived background, Smith took great pride in his run, to reach the 5,000m final and star alongside his former training partner and now double Olympic champion Mo Farah.
“His battle just to get to where he is today is a story in itself,” he said. “His deprived background and battle to stay in the country after arriving as an asylum seeker and to go and get into the Olympic final is very gratifying for me.
“Only Dave Mitchinson and Kairn Stone have won more team gold medals than Moumin on the roads and over the country.”
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